1. Honey
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    Honey New Member

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    Which of the two pays the best royalties?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Honey, May 15, 2010.

    I have a plot in mind but am not sure whether to write it as a book or a film script. Which of the two pays the best royalties? Could a book be submitted to film companies or would it have to be written as a script?

    I look forward to your advice.
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're interested in money, you're in the wrong field. Write what you can write best and what you like. If you write a script, you will definitely need an agent, and if you write a book, an agent helps a lot. But first, try writing and publishing shorter pieces to build up your resume.
     
  3. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    You would definitely have to re-write it as a script at some point.
     
  4. Nobeler Than Lettuce
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    Nobeler Than Lettuce Contributing Member

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    Not always, most screenplay adaptations are done by other people these days.

    But if you're the type of writer that just pushes all the BS aside and asks which he should write to make the bucks, the type that's so sure of your abilities to be famous in an instant that he can willy nilly write either novel or screenplay, than I'd suggest writing a script, because, you know, Avatar made hundreds of millions.
     
  5. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    I would say write a book (or five). Screen writing is even harder to break into than publishing.
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    But most don't, Nobeler. Anyway, it's true that most screenplay adaptations are not written by the same person who wrote the book. If you're lucky, you may be involved in the process, but you will not be writing it yourself.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in the first place, screenwriters don't get paid 'royalties' like authors do... book royalties are a percentage of the book price [retail, or wholesale, depending on the contract] for every one sold, while movies take in 'box office' revenue...

    the sale contract for a script will specify what percentage of the profits the writer will get, if any... many are sold outright for a flat figure, with no 'back end' payment...

    few can write both books and screenplays well enough for them to be marketable... screenwriting is the most specialized of all the writing arts and takes years of learning and practice to get good enough at it to sell a script... in fact, the average first sale by a new writer is the NINTH one s/he has written...

    writing novels is another thing altogether, since it doesn't require learning a very different style of writing and formatting...

    as rei noted, your decision on what to write should not be based on how much you can theoretically make, but on what you are capable of writing at a professional level... or which one you are willing to take the time to learn how to do well enough to turn out a marketable ms/script...

    she's also right about the adaptation of novels to film...

    finally, books and even unpublished book mss are bought to be turned into screenplays, but as noted, the author would rarely do the adaptation...
     
  8. hyperspace!
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    hyperspace! Member

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    I'd go with a screenplay if I were you. All the technical stuff is way beyond my understanding, but more people go to the movies than read books nowadays. There's some benefit in that, I think.
     
  9. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Original screenplays get produced a lot less than original novels get published. Also, generally more than one screenwriter works on each screenplay.

    In the end, it comes down to which you want to write- novels? or movies? They are rather different skills.

    If you just want to make a living do some sort of fiction writing, definitely go with novels.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you are writing to make lots of money, GOOD LUCK. You'll need it, and more. People who write for money are not driven to develop their craft. They don't have the love of language that makes the best writers.
     
  11. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    I respectfully disagree, Cogito. I work my ass off to develop my craft and learn as much about writing as I can. Writers who don't probably won't sell.

    But I'm also doing this for a career, my main goal is to sell lots of stories and novels and make a living. The best way to do that? Practice your craft and learn the business.
     
  12. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I think you have a better chance of making money on a novel than on a movie. Also, lets say you do write a script but the producers don't like it, then what do you do? At least with a novel you can finance it yourself and print copies yourself.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    unless it's a collaboration from the get-go, that's only after an original 1-writer script is bought... other writers [usually 'studio hacks'] are then brought on board to do rewrites and turn out the shooting script... the director will often have a hand in rewrites, as well...

    the original creator of the script will rarely be allowed to tinker with his/her own 'baby'... unless, that is, participation in the production process is included in the contract, which next to never will happen with a new and unknown writer...

    btw, carthonn makes a good point about the difference between the two mediums... you can't produce your own feature film, without having serious industry backing and funding, but can print your own book, for just a comparatively few bucks!
     
  14. Sam Taylor
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    Sam Taylor New Member

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    Putting aside questions of whether a first-time writer should be thinking primarily of how much money they're likely to make... I think the sensible answer to this is to write your story as a book. Unless it's something much better suited to film, but in that case you probably wouldn't be asking the question.

    I've written four novels - three published, the fourth comes out next year - and with two of them I've sold the film rights. The first has been made, and is being premiered at Cannes on Wednesday. The second is in screenplay form and is about to be sent to producers.

    From my experience, I would say this: if you sell a book for film adaptation, you will generally make more money than if you wrote an original screenplay. Not only do you get paid for book publication (plus foreign rights), you also get an annual option fee, plus a purchase price which is dependent on the size of the budget but generally a figure which will dwarf your book advances. You also then get between 2.5 and 5% of the net profits.

    And it's not impossible that they'd let you write the screenplay: it's something you'd have to negotiate. That would be easier, of course, if you've already written an adaptation. This is what I'm hoping to do with my next novel. The book took me more than two years; the screenplay, because I was adapting material I already knew by heart, took me about three weeks. Only a first draft, of course, but it's enough to show to a producer.
     
  15. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you just wanna make money, become a copywriter in advertisement. Not too challenging, not too creative, steady hours, lots of office perks and a fat paycheck every month.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    with your publishing/screenwriting credits, i have to wonder why you don't have an ibdm listing, sam... even the bare-bones listing for the cannes entrant doesn't give you credit as the author/screenwriter [ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1507250/ ] of what sounds like a lovely novel/film... and you're not listed as a writer by name on the site, either, though there are plenty of other sam taylors listed...

    get yourself out there, mon brave!

    bon chance a cannes!

    love and hugs, maia
     
  17. Sam Taylor
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    Sam Taylor New Member

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    Hmm, you're right. 'Written by Anonymous' is a bit strange. How do I go about changing that Maia, any ideas?

    Oh and I don't have any screenwriting credits as yet.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    but you do have a movie adaptation of your book out and in competition at one of the most prestigious film festivals, so that certainly qualifies you for a listing on imdb...

    i don't know how one gets a listing added there, but i'm sure if you go to the site, you'll find out how to do it... better yet, ask your agent to do it...
     
  19. gabriellockhart
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    gabriellockhart Member

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    well it depends, the average screenwriter writing average stuff makes more then your average novelist writing average stuff, but a novelist who writes an uber best seller like harry potter will make you a hell of a lot more then the same level screenwriter. taking into account all the other bits and pieces such has merchandising etc.

    proof james cameron net worth 150 million dollars
    jk rowling net worth 600 million english pounds that's 857 million dollars

    just a thought from one end of the scale to the extreme end of the scale. though george lucas is worth 3 or 4 billion from the back of the star wars empire but that's because he invested in special effects companies and kept all the rights to starwars and indiana jones etc.
     
  20. Laos
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    Laos Member

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    first time writers don't make it big. It's something you need to develop, grow, articulate, add staccato to, and form into a mold that serves its purpose.

    If you are into it for money, as others have plainly said, its not profitable. There are just as many starving artists as there are starving writers. Now for those who talk about the bestsellers who make million, those are exceptions.

    As for your choice, neither. If you're looking for royalties, maybe you should look into a different field.

    writing a screenplay thats used in a film can indeed make you some cash, but dont forget that it depends on a lot for you to determine what you get. If you're selling it or getting a kickback on the film, sure it could bring a bit of money. But if you're just getting paid to do content for it, then its not necessarily profitable. Same actually goes for books. Is it a new york times bestseller or a dime novel?
     
  21. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Novel writers can make very good money and many do. But it takes years, sometimes more than a decade to get to that point. It rarely happens overnight (and overnight here means within a year or two). Thousands of authors make good money, but not so many make good money by writing just one book :) You have to think of it long-term, just like building any business.
     
  22. Sam Taylor
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    Sam Taylor New Member

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    Yeah, I asked my agent.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'll be watching for you on imdb... hope you do well in cannes... hugs, m
     

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